Culture, Heritage, and International Museum Day

Entrance, Te Papa Tongarewa -- Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Te Papa Tongarewa — Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Today is International Museum Day (IMD). Museums and art galleries have always been amongst my happy places — oases of culture, history and learning. Places to make discoveries, to connect with the past, and to dream.

The theme of this year’s IMD isMuseums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.” According to the International Council of Museums:

This theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people. It also highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. Media release for launch of IMD: ICoM, May 18, 2017

Like most cultural institutions, museums have traditionally represented culture and heritage from a particular perspective — that of the society’s dominant groups. Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and members of various sub-cultures have tended to find our stories either absent, or told through a lens not our own.

Definitions of “culture” are themselves contested, and in fact I can remember a time in New Zealand when there was widespread popular debate about whether this country could be said to have “a culture” — and if so, of what it might consist.

In 1980, Kiwi band, The Knobz, released the song, Culture, in response to then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s assertion that pop music was not “culture.”

Thankfully, New Zealand, and the culture sector has moved on a bit.

I hope that this year’s Museum Appreciation Day theme will encourage both dialogue, and popular engagement with cultures, heritage and museums.

And ok: I’m trying to cover a few bases with this post:

Daily Post Photo Challenge | heritage

Sarah at Art Expedition‘s celebration of the National Appreciation Days that take place in May. Please visit to see her creative responses to these Days.

NZ Music Month



Weekly Photo Challenge: culture (tea-time)

Tea and scone. Martha's Pantry, Cuba Street, Wellington

Tea and scone. Martha’s Pantry, Cuba Street, Wellington

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge word is “culture”.  You can find out more about the challenge here.

I’ve spent the last few days in Wellington – a city that New Zealanders probably regard as the country’s coffee capital. However, I am pleased to say that despite a sense that “coffee culture” has taken over in NZ in recent years, the art of making and drinking tea is also alive and well.

These photos were taken at Martha’s Pantry in Cuba Street – wonderful, old-fashioned tea shop with retro (and very girly) decor; beautiful food and the best pot of tea I’ve had in bloody ages.

Hooray for the two young staff members at Martha’s who, while I was there, were whipping up Neenish Tarts, amazing looking Club Sandwiches, tiny macarons and all manner of other goodies right in front of me while managing to provide cheereful, professional service to customers at the same time.